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A History of Preston in Hertfordshire
Anyone for tennis?
A man who moved to Preston in around 1916 observed the birth of tennis in the village after WW1. He wrote, ‘The Tennis Club …was formed in the early Twenties and was such an immediate success that a second court had to be opened. Apart from evening and Saturday games, there were tournaments played against Breachwood Green, Wymondley, Shillington and clubs from St Albans and Hitchin. In the Thirties, which were probably the peak years of the Club, the membership and standard of play was high and it was during this period that Miss Rose Ashton played Miss Maggie Wray (now Mrs R Whitby, shown below) in a great ladies single final for the Club championship. A large number of North Herts tennis fans watched this match and also a few sixpences were won and lost on the result.’ (D Frost)
The newspapers of the day confirmed this memory - see later:
Another account valued this gift at £450 and Mr Frost added that the courts were where ‘now children happily swing and cars park where once a sterling battle was fought’.
July 1927
September 1935
Maggie Wray (shown above, right) and her brother, Sam. would ‘tend’ the courts and their immediate neighbour, Eileen Newell, also played tennis there. There are several news reports of tennis at Preston from 1927 until 1935, which not only confirm when the sport was played, but also identify the players. In March 1927, a Whist Drive was held to raise funds:
Mr Gibson was probably Benjamin Gibson who lived at The Bothy in the Temple Dinsley grounds in 1927/28. RJW Dawson was the Temple Dinsley estate manager, who lived at Crunnells Green House and G Dawson was likely his son, (Reginald) Gordon Dawson - both father and son also played cricket for Preston. W Darton was William, who moved from Temple Farm to Kiln Wood Cottage, while W Peters was ‘Jockey’ Peters - both of whom had strong connections to Preston Cricket Club.
July 1927
1 August 1929
10 August 1929
The Preston players in the report: Mr Petterson lived at Sootfield Green. Miss (Rose) Ashton was the daughter of Preston’s baker, Thomas. Link: Ashton Mr R G Dawson was the Temple Dinsley Estate manager, living at Crunnells Green House. Link RDG Miss Baulk was born locally in the summer of 1912 and lived at Thirstley Bungalow between Gosmore and Preston. She kept riding stables. Link: Cropper Mr W Darton was William Alfred Darton, who was living at Kiln Wood Cottage in 1919. He married Emily Thoday at St Martins, Preston on 11 April 1936. Miss Wray was my aunt, Maggie, who married Ron Whitby. Link: Maggie Whitby Mr D Towns was living at The Bothy on the Temple Dinsley Estate in 1929. Mrs L Peters may be Lucy, the wife of Edward Peters who married at Paddington in the spring of 1908. Link: Peters From the following report, Frederick Hooper lived at The Bungalow, Tatmore.
April 1936
Mr Frost reported that ‘Tennis was again started after [WW2], but the lack of young players taking up the game resulted in the club being closed down’.
August 1930
Perhaps the implication of the next report is that the Tennis Club was struggling to arrange fixtures.